Chimney Inspection and Evaluation Facts
Did You Know that storks nesting in chimneys were once believed to bring good luck, according to European folklore? The fact is nests in chimneys – or blockages of any kind in your fireplace – are nothing short of bad news. These obstructions can cause smoking problems, chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
In 1998, there were 18,300 residential fires in the United States originating in chimneys, fireplaces and solid fuel appliances, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. These fires resulted in 160 personal injuries, 40 deaths and $158.2 million in property damage.
Fires are Preventable
Virtually all of these fires were preventable according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a non-profit institution dedicated to public and chimney professional education. Both CSIA and the National Fire Protection Association recommend a yearly fireplace inspection to help prevent these hazards.
Many American homeowners think their chimneys only need to be cleaned and inspected if they burn wood in their fireplaces or wood stoves. But almost all heating appliances, whether they burn gas, oil, wood or coal, rely on the chimney to safely carry toxic gases produced by the heating system of the house.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is Preventable
A carbon monoxide detector can warn homeowners of potential poisoning after the deadly gas has already entered the living area. However, an annual chimney check can help prevent carbon monoxide from entering the home in the first place.
Put Your Fireplace & Chimney on Your To-Do List
It’s amazing how every fall homeowners shift into home-improvement mode. They clean gutters, garages and basements getting everything prepared for the winter and the upcoming holiday season. The one thing they forget and don’t usually inspect, repair or clean is their fireplaces, including the chimney, which makes little sense considering the potential for damage to both property and lives!
An annual chimney inspection by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® is a modest investment that can reduce the danger of chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps have earned the industry’s most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimneys and venting systems.
In fact, when chimney fires occur, many insurance investigators rely on CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps to determine whether a fire originated in – or damaged – the chimney system. The CSIA, established in 1983, is a non-profit, educational institution, dedicated to educating the public about the prevention of chimney safety hazards. When looking for a chimney inspector or inspectors, what you will look for are CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps.
3 Levels of Safety Chimney Inspections
1. Level 1 Inspection – starts @ $159
- Recommended if you have not changed – and do not plan to change your heating appliance or system.
- Considered appropriate during annual service visit and during flue cap installation.
- Technicians do not need to use tools to open or remove doors, panels, or coverings, in order to examine the chimney exterior and interior.
- Technicians may need commonly available tools to examine portions of the appliance and the chimney connection and the evaluation will not disrupt the chimney structure or finish.
2. Level 2 Inspection – starts @ $189
- Required when any change is made to your system – for example, before the flue is relined, or when you replace an appliance with another of a dissimilar type or efficiency level.
- Required upon the sale or transfer of property.
- Suggested when an operating malfunction or external event is likely to have caused damage to the chimney or appliance.
- Does not require the removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure.
- Includes all services appropriate in a Level I inspection, plus the examination of accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior, including attics crawl spaces and basements.
- Can include a visual inspection by video scanning.
3. Level 3 Inspection – quote only – read below
- Conducted only after a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection indicates a hazard in concealed portions of the chimney and flue.
- Involves the removal, and possibly destruction, of portions of the chimney or building structure, as necessary.
- Requires special tools and access to concealed areas of the chimney and flue.